It's extremely common for change management practices to vary between organisations, yet the absolute fundamentals of change that have been tried and tested over the years will be relatively similar due to their significant success when leading change. Below are 3 best practices of change management to improve your change adoption, even when managing change in complex projects. We recommend trying these for your next proposed change and see if they help to improve change management delivery.
Best practice #1:
Start the change management earlier
Experienced change management practitioners will tell you that when and how a change is announced enterprise-wide can determine the overall success of the change. Adjustment periods for employees just to digest the news are often forgotten about and this can lead to change resistance as those directly impacted by the change are not given an appropriate amount of time to understand and adapt to why it is occurring.
Timing is important. Consider what time of year the change is being announced, is it a busy time of year and what current and future deadlines do they have to meet? Try your best to introduce the change at a time of less organisational or departmental pressure where employees may be more relaxed and have more "head space" to deal with the change.
From there, you can start the change process gradually. Remember, you cannot just expect employees to change after one introductory meeting or session, so starting as early as possible will work out in your favour.
Starting the change process and communications early may also help to identify any areas or gaps in information that concern employees and give you time to address these issues early on into the process.
According to Prosci's Best Practices those organisations who start change management in the project initiation phase enjoy a 64% success rate in their project meeting its business objectives, while those who start in the implementation phase suffer a 37% success rate.
Best practice #2:
Follow a structured approach
According to Prosci research, following a structured change management approach sits high at number 3 on their list of change delivery success contributors. This can be attributed to change management practitioners following planned activities and steps that keep them on the right track, ensures time is not being wasted and help you plan more effectively.
A structured approach includes taking advantage of an established and trusted change management methodology. At CMC we follow and teach the Prosci methodology which is based on 20 years worth of research of that includes more than 4,500 global participants from all industry sectors. If you do not currently use a change management methodology we recommend choosing one that is easy to understand and use, like Prosci, to measurably improve user adoption enterprise-wide.
Change management should not be started without a proper methodology to justify and back up the actions you are undertaking. This can help you if your sponsorship is low and you need more executive buy-in. It equips you with the proven techniques, skills and tools to manage and implement even the most complex of changes. Prosci guides us through a 3-phase organisational change process; preparing, managing and reinforcing change, enabling us to manage the complexity of dealing with change impacting many thousands of people working throughout different functions and geographies.
A strong methodology like Prosci will provide an approach and a set of practical tools to help you mitigate or reduce the natural employee resistance to change.
Best practice #3:
Customise approach for each change
You may have multiple changes that you are planning to implement, but that does not mean you will be using the exact same change management delivery approach for all. Every change is unique in size, disruptiveness and complexity and has varying levels of acceptance from the employees who are directly impacted and therefore our change management strategy, to accelerate proficient adoption of the new ways of working, needs to be customised accordingly. Copy/paste of previous strategies doesn't work.
Change happens one person at a time. Remember it is individuals who have to change, not the organisation itself, so your change delivery success will be dependent on how effectively you can customise your approach.
Have you been using these best practices when implementing change?
If not, maybe it's time for refresh of the fundamentals of change management. Here at CMC we provide a change management refresher course to certified Prosci practitioners through a one-day intensive and interactive programme. To learn about why you should attend this refresher workshop, and why it will help improve your change management delivery please click on the link below.
Thinking about refreshing your change management knowledge?
Our next workshop takes place on the 11th September in the Regus Singapore.